February 18th, 2013

AWARE calls for an inclusive Budget 2013

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This year, AWARE reiterates its recommendations for an inclusive budget that adequately meets the needs of all women in Singapore, regardless of age, marital status and disabilities. The Budget should also be aligned with the State’s obligations under the international treaties that Singapore has ratified:

  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

budget cartoonAlthough the State has stepped up efforts to address the needs of an inclusive society, AWARE is still concerned about gaps in five key areas:

  1. Comprehensive healthcare
  2. Meeting the needs of the elderly
  3. Increasing support for persons with disabilities
  4. Adequate support for caregiving
  5. Reducing the Gini coefficient and increasing social mobility

AWARE calls for increased support for the care economy – activities of care that enables our industrial economy to function – including the care of children, the elderly, disabled and even able-bodied workers. Care work is indispensable and should not be rendered invisible or peripheral in discussions of economic matters. Individual women should not be expected to make personal sacrifices to provide the unpaid labour of care. Not only is this socially unjust, it is irrational for a country to address systemic issues of care by relying on individuals to figure out solutions for themselves, case by case, rather than to provide structural support for shared needs.

AWARE’s recommendations were discussed with individual experts and civil society groups, including a pre-Budget Forum at AWARE on 26 January 2013. Our 18 recommendations are:

A.     Comprehensive healthcare

  1. Immediately double current spending on healthcare from 1.6% of GDP to 3.2% and make healthcare affordable for all
  2. Minimise the out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure of individuals, especially those who can least afford it
  3. Prioritise chronic care management, improve chronic care treatment and make it affordable to all
  4. Extend comprehensive health insurance to all without discriminating against those who are unemployed or low-waged

B.     Meeting the needs of the elderly

  1. Ensure that the elderly have sufficient funds for retirement, especially older women who do not have sufficient savings.

C.     Increasing support for persons with disabilities

  1. Increase access of persons with disabilities to all mainstream and Special Education (SPED) schools, and all tertiary educational institutions
  2. Ensure that all SPED schools are affordable to persons with disabilities
  3. Provide support infrastructure for persons with disabilities in tertiary educational institutions, such as sign language interpreters, allied educators and other facilitators
  4. Provide transport allowances to all persons with disabilities so they can travel to schools and workplaces of their choice
  5. Increase the employment of disabled persons by allocating more funds to sheltered workshops and making the Open Door Fund more available to employers.
  6. Extend the enhanced MediShield insurance coverage to babies with congenital and neonatal conditions, and to those who acquire disabilities during the course of their lives.
  7. Provide a tax rebate for employed persons with disabilities to offset the cost of specialised equipment they need for daily living.
  8. Develop a comprehensive, transparent and accessible database about persons with disabilities in Singapore, with gender-disaggregated information.

D.    Adequate support for caregiving

  1. Extend the same amount of childcare subsidies to working mothers and stay-at-home mothers
  2. Eliminate discrimination based on marital status of parents when providing subsidies to newborn citizens
  3. Change the Work-life Works! (WoW!) Fund to a scheme that rewards companies that have introduced effective strategies for work-life balance appropriate to their specific employment context, and encourages them to share these strategies with others

E.     Reducing the Gini coefficient and increasing social mobility

  1. Support low-income groups and enable intergenerational social mobility by increasing social spending in a systematic and effective way.
  2. Eliminate the stringent criteria to be eligible for the Centre-based Financial Assistance Scheme for Childcare (CFAC).

Read the full text of AWARE’s submission here.

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